BenQ SW2700PT Review
Now I don’t generally do many reviews of products as a norm, as I try my best to research and read reviews myself before purchasing a new product. A little time ago I was approached by the good folks at BenQ Australia to discuss if I would be interested in testing out their new 27-inch display monitors, designed purely for photographers. Well, I am a photographer, how could I say no?
This is my review of the BenQ SW2700PT Monitor.
I am a Landscape and Wedding photographer based in Hobart, Tasmania. I don’t print loads of images from home as I have a preferred printer, but I do like having a monitor that represents my work in a pure and accurate form straight from the camera.
Lets start with some general facts and stats about the monitor.
• 27 inches, 16:9, 2560 x 1440, IPS Technology.
• Covers 99% of Adobe RGB
• Black & White mode.
• Input terminals include DVI-DL, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0
• Colour accuracy through 10-bit processing IPS panel.
It comes delivered in a reasonable sized box, one that fits easily in my car or any normal sized sedan. I was a bit hesitant to lay the monitor down in the car boot, so I stood it up across the back seats and fitted easily.
Packaging is what you would expect from any quality company, snug and very, very protected. This is pretty common across the board from my experience with other brands. You do however have the same issue of where to dispose of all the polystyrene after you have set up your monitor. My answer was to just pack it away back into the box in case of future moves where the monitor needs to be transported.
Overall the monitor comes wrapped up like a baby, snug and with plenty of protection.
What’s In The Box?
The exciting part of any new toy is going through the contents of the box. The first thing is the monitor itself, and this was probably the first example of when this monitor impressed me. It was surprisingly heavy, but of a quality in the way that you can tell it’s a solidily built unit. Off to a good start and the monitor was safely placed on the desktop.
One thing to be aware of is when lifting the unit there is a handle at the top of the tower to grab, I made the mistake of pulling out by grabbing both sides of the monitor and as expected, the monitor moved up the tower scaring the bejesus out of me.
Also found in the box was the included shade unit that fits around the monitor. Perfect for anyone using the monitor in bright rooms or with side light from windows. This shade works extremely well and helps keep unwanted light off the monitor. This allows you to work more efficiently and with more comfort.
All expected cables are in the box, apart from a HDMI. I was a little surprised by this but then again not everyone would be connecting via HDMI. I am using my Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch laptop via the HDMI to this monitor. Easy fixed though, HDMI cables a readily available and very cheap these days.
Other cables included are obviously the power cable, a DVI-DL, Mini DP to DP and USB 3.0 cables. Also in the box is the OSD Controller, which I will touch on later in the review; A very cool addition.
The monitor also has its own factory-tested colour calibration report included which is handy for when you are setting up your new monitor and setting up calibration.
Time To Set Up
As mentioned earlier the monitor itself is quite weighty, but easy to move about when using the provided handle at the top of the monitors tower. Pick up, place where you need… simple. Adjusting the monitor height and angles is very simple and movement is super smooth. No jerky adjustments, you can adjust to your hearts content to within millimeters of your desired settings.
To access the cables ports on the back of the unit is again easy. All the ports are grouped together which helps a lot when you are trying to find ports. I have used other brands of monitors and you can sometimes find some ports here and the rest somewhere else. The SW2700PT has them all in one place.
So as mentioned I am using my MacBook Pro via the HDMI cable. After a quick adjustment of settings on my MacBook to the display setting and I was up and running within 2 minutes. I seriously would have spent no more then 5 minutes to get the actually monitor set up, turned on, and running via my MacBook. Easy!
To calibrate the monitor I used the Spyder 5 Express unit. My colour profile was set to sRGB as all my printing is exported in this profile. And easy thing to adjust via the OSC Controller and some adjustments to the monitors display setting. Again, simple to calibrate and after 5 minutes or so I had a brilliant looking monitor, calibrated and ready to rock n’ roll.
Now For The Fun Stuff
The timing of delivery of my monitor was perfect. The next week I was heading out for a weeklong hiking adventure into the Tasmanian wilderness, followed up the very next day by a wedding shoot at Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. The joy of two completely different shooting events with a new monitor to process and run my images through.
My workflow for all my work is importing images via Adobe Lightroom and exporting via the same program. I shoot using Olympus camera gear. My rig of choice is the Olympus EM1 Mk1, coupled with a variety of Olympus lenses.
Upon returning from my week long adventure and wedding shoot I had close to 2500 images to cull and edit. I found straight of the bat the SW2700PT to be already sharper in appearance for my images then my other monitor. My images from camera in RAW already appeared more vibrant and crisper. I was excited. I was seeing detail in colours and focus that I wasn’t seeing in other monitors.
Editing over 2500 images via the SW27000PT actually became a bit of a journey for me as a photographer due to the details I was witnessing from my work. I found my editing became a lot more streamlined and enjoyable as I was seeing clearly the results of my work, and with the colour reproduction of the screen I was able to edit more accurately to what my eye remembered. Colours galore were in all my images and it was evident that the 99% Adobe RGB colour coverage was true and present in front of me on the monitor, even though I was editing in sRGB, I was able to swap between profiles and see the amount of details and colours captured.
Sky colour, trees, clouds, rocks, rivers, you name it. Items from my hiking adventure via this monitor pretty much matched my memory from the real thing. And it wasn’t just landscape images that were popping off the screen, the wedding images and the skin tones, whites of the wedding dress and details on the bridal party again were just that much more appealing. It made editing more enjoyable and easier and it also reassured me that my work I was producing was of professional quality and I wasn’t relying on editing to fix my misfortunes.
Below are some example of my work processed via Lightroom and the SW2700PT. Images are exported from Adobe Lightroom as JPG in the sRGB colour space.
As I mentioned above the monitor comes included with an OSD Controller. This little tool is pretty cool and used to allow the user access to changing colour profiles with a touch of a button. The OSD Controller has three settings:
1. Adobe RGB
3. Black & White
At first I thought this was a bit of a funny thing to have on a monitor as I always edit images in sRGB, but after playing around a bit I really found the B&W profile handy to check out possible variants for images I was editing. Swapping to Adobe RGB also gave me confidence that there was an abundance of colours in my images. There is also a 4th option on the OSD Controller, which takes you directly to the monitor’s settings menu, another handy option. The OSD is also fully customisable, where as you can customise the function of each button to match your desire.
Overall the OSD Controller has its benefits, but once I was in my editing mode and swinging through 2500 images I rarely used apart from the occasional B&W view. I find I use it more today for the menu access. I may look to customise it going forward.
For a photographer that has been using another brand monitor for some time, it was refreshing to have the opportunity to see my work through another monitor, and I wasn’t disappointed. The SW2700 PT is now my main monitor for editing and photography related exercises. The monitor has a brilliant feel to it and the display of my images. Colours are more expressed, sharpness is clearly more evident and the overall manufacturing of the monitor feels like pure quality.
I have been using the screen now for about 2 months and have edited close to 4000 images through it. I am finding myself seeing more details and there is definitely more “oh, cool, look at that image” moments as compared to before I was editing on my older monitor.
For any photographer out there that is considering upgrading their monitor and have seen the options out there, I would seriously advice you to at least take a look at the SW2700PT. As a monitor it falls in the middle range price-wise to other brands, but if it’s “bang for buck” you are looking for and quality, than this unit will not disappoint.
As I stated earlier, I don’t print much here at home, so I can’t really advice you on that side of your photography output. But if you edit a lot of work and love to see your images displayed in their pure form, with great colour reproduction and brilliant sharpness, then this monitor will impress.
The BenQ SW2700PT retails from $999AUD